Zarqawi, Abu Musab al- (äˈbō mōsäb äl-zärkäˈwē) [key], nom de guerre of Ahmad Fadhil Nazzar al-Khalaylah, 1966–2006, Islamic terrorist leader, b. Jordan. Becoming a militant Islamist in his early 20s after several years as a mostly petty criminal, he traveled to Afghanistan in 1989 to join the mujahidin, but saw little fighting and worked as a journalist. Returning to Jordan, he was arrested (1994) for plotting against the king and jailed until 1999. In Afghanistan again by 2000, he met Osama bin Laden but established his own training camp; he fled the country when the United States moved against the Taliban after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks. Zarqawi was in Iraq, possibly working with Iranian-supported Islamists, when the United States invaded, and by mid-2003 Al-Tawhid wa al-Jihad, which he headed, was mounting terror attacks, including videotaped beheadings and suicide bombings, against U.S. forces and Iraqi Shiites. Responsible for deadly terror attacks in both Iraq and Jordan, Zarqawi publicly aligned himself with Al Qaeda in 2004 and renamed his group Al Qaeda in Iraq. Zarqawi was killed in a U.S. air strike north of Baghdad in 2006.
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